I’m under fire after a recent column I wrote about people who meditate. Here is an actual email I received:
HOW DARE YOU CRITICIZE MEDITATION! I WAS AN UPTIGHT ANGRY PERSON UNTIL I STARTED MEDITATING. YOU ARE REALLY TICKING ME OFF!!!!
OK, using all uppercase is not a capital offense (or maybe it is), but it did make me rethink my initial observations.To educate myself, I headed for a local health food market where they have a bigger selection of New Age magazines than granolas. I was trying to find the right publication, so I grabbed one called Mindlessness, which I thought would advocate for my personal lifestyle. When I got home I realized it was actually called Mindfulness, which was not something I was remotely interested in.
The publication was chock full of advice on how to focus, but experts also advised you should let your mind wander, so I became very confused. How can you do both? One writer claimed meditation goes back to the early shepherds in the Promised Land. While the shepherd was minding his flock, if he dozed off, his sheep would do the wandering for him. There you go.
Most of the exercises can be done in the sitting position—exactly the kind of fitness program I was looking for. First, there is alternate nostril breathing: “Hold your right thumb over your right nostril, then release the right nostril and plug it with your pinkie.” I gave it a try, but my wife came in the room and caught me with my finger up my nose.
One yoga teacher advocates “holding your ears down with two fingers and gently pulling them away from your head at a 45-degree angle.” My wife caught me doing this, also, and told me to go back to picking my nose. Another meditation guru suggests hiding your cellphone to achieve some peace. No problem: I can never find it, anyway.
Finally, “Plant a seed, water it daily and expose it to daylight. Then enjoy the beauty you will behold.” I did that with grass seed. We still have the worst lawn in the neighborhood.
I’m going to meditate on that.